Ministries better understand midlevel donors with fundraising software

Donation tracking software can help ministries better engage the highly coveted, yet largely overlooked, midlevel donor bracket. Investing time and energy into these donors can give nonprofits the boost they need to consistently reach their fundraising goals.

Who are midlevel donors?
First, an organization needs to identify its midlevel contributors. The parameters for defining these constituents vary greatly depending on the ministry. Pursuant, a fundraising solutions agency, conducted a study of this elusive bracket over thirteen years. The company loosely defined a midlevel giver as someone who donates $1,000 to $25,000 to an organization each year. For some nonprofits, this range could be as low as $300 to $600. 

Pursuant encouraged donor profiling, looking at a prospective contributor's giving ability and donation history, to separate midlevel donors from the rest. The study concluded that many contributors who fall into the middle category have not donated before but submit gifts the first time they are asked. Contacting the right candidates can pay off; 41 percent of survey participants had agreed to a multiyear donation contract after first being asked to donate.

Fundraising Success Magazine suggested looking at how long donors have been on file, their giving ability and their loyalty to the organization to determine where the midlevel givers are. Though they may only make up a small portion of membership, their contributions can grow over the years. The midlevel donors of today are the major donors of tomorrow.

What do they want?
Constituents in this middle zone need a message that is more nuanced than their low and high level counterparts. They will not respond well to general automated emails, nor will they require an intensely personal relationship. They must bridge the gap between the two.

Cathy Finney, deputy vice president of strategic services at The Wilderness Society, told the Nonprofit Times that her organization created a stewardship program with a special name for midlevel donors. "Advocates", as they are called, have added value to Finney's organization. They join the stewardship program by donating a single gift of $1,000. Finney asserted that there were also high and low-tier donors who didn't want to be in their current brackets and felt more comfortable giving at the middle level. The publication suggested giving backers the opportunity to advance to a higher tier each year, eventually becoming a major supporter. 

In Finney's experience, donors wanted to feel integrated into the nonprofit's leadership. The Nonprofit Marketing Blog iterated the importance of hosting an event with a clear message about the ministry's progress and providing face-to-face interaction with donors. This is not a dinner or reception, this is an outing all day or once every few months. Letting supporters know they are important and keeping them in the loop on insider information will increase loyalty.

How to develop midlevel donors?
The most important tool, according to Pursuant, is a good system for processing gifts, accepting donations and maintaining relationships. Without a donation tracking software system, constituents will not have control of their personal profiles, giving history or preferences. Ministry staff can effectively identify and communicate with midlevel donors through nonprofit software.

In addition, contact via email, mail or in person should focus on the generosity of the donor, rather than the accomplishments of the organization. Personalized thank-you messages should be sent or voiced as soon as a gift is received. The power of a phone call cannot be underestimated when it comes to thanking midlevel donors. 

Donor management software provides invaluable contributor information that can be used in donor profiling, not to mention maintaining meaningful relationships with loyal constituents. It is an invaluable software system for all ministries.